Like a geographical virus the spread of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has broken all natural boundaries. It is immune to any antibiotic of logic and poses a deadly threat to the health, peace and stability of the world.
For decades in the West, NATO was believed to have been a defensive response to the creation of the Warsaw Pact – despite the fact that it was formed long before the treaty, which has in turn been nearly 30 years dead. Nonetheless, like death and taxes, membership of NATO has been assumed to be one of life’s few certainties with an increasing share of national wealth going to pay for it.
This might have gone on unquestioned but for the multiple East-West crises of the last few years and the bizarre inclusion of, brothers-in-arms and non-North Atlantic states, Colombia and Israel in recent NATO activity.
Almost overnight, interest in my long-quiescent No2NATO campaign has picked up as public opinion has switched on like a light to the fact that there is little that is defensive about NATO and even less that is North Atlantic.
When the Colombian President announced a Co-operation Agreement with NATO in 2013 and expressed hope that his country would eventually join the US-led alliance, it was met with opposition in his own country and embarrassed chortles at NATO HQ. Jungle fighting against the FARC guerrillas or a confrontation with the Chavez revolution in neighboring Venezuela were clearly “out of area” – even for the mission-creepers in Brussels.
But with the sharpening of US hostilities towards Venezuela, holder of the world’s largest proven oil reserves, and now officially an enemy of Washington subject to the usual spectrum of regime-change bombardment, NATO-Colombian relations have suddenly been cranked up dramatically.
It is likely that the US will soon turn to a Contra-style physical confrontation with the tenacious Chavistas in Venezuela, in which case a maritime and even ground force presence for the US will be necessary. When the Venezuelans fight back, this could be deemed to be an attack on a “NATO-partner and candidate member”. Vietnam 2 could then be fought by, not only the US, but Britain, France, Belgium and Uncle Tom Cobley.
Although not European, Israel has long participated in such cultural highlights as the Eurovision Song Contest – and has often won it! They ply their less-successful football trade in the UEFA Champions League too. The ever advancing NATO encroachment towards the border with Russia has, until now, kept Israel out of NATO. It had to make do with being a “Mediterranean Partner” alongside the likes of Egypt and Morocco.
Israel’s complex relations with Russia pose a dilemma for Benjamin Netanyahu. After all, it is only weeks ago that the Israeli premier shouldered his way to President Vladimir Putin’s side on the Victory day parade in Moscow. Huge numbers of Russian Jews are also citizens of Israel – including, virtually overnight last week, Roman Abramovich. There is visa-free travel between the countries and significant economic relations.
Being on opposing sides in the long-war in Syria has tested relations between Moscow and Tel Aviv but it has not broken them. So when 18,000 NATO soldiers just invaded the Baltic States and Poland for the eighth Saber Strike military maneuvers aimed at Russia, nobody expected the Israeli Parachute Regiment to turn up. But they did.
The “exercises” are designed to cast a shadow over the World Cup in Russia, and to act tough – as a bolster to the spectrum of sanctions on Russia at a time when they are beginning to fray as Putin’s visit to Austria just demonstrated.
The message is, our soft power might be tissue-thin but our guns still pack a punch. And now we’ve got the Israelis on the front-line too. Together with the recent reckless bombing in Syria, which came uncomfortably close to vital Russian interests, and the increasingly bellicose threats of war by Israel against Iran, sabers may begin to be sharpened on both sides after the World Cup is won.
NATO’s value to its US overlord is that it can bypass individual nuances on policy in member states. So, while Germany, Italy and France are chafing somewhat against endless economic sanctions on Russia, and where virtually everyone is against Trump on Iran, NATO’s independent institutional power and its elaborate trip-wire system can plummet everyone into a crisis – irrespective of member-state nuances never mind hostile public opinion.
It may be hoped that NATO membership assumes consent to US orders as a kind of default position. That when a trip wire is allegedly crossed, the alliance itself will move into action before European public opinion can even begin to get its boots on.
A couple of years ago I shared a platform at an important festival of ideas in Hay-on-Wye, on the Welsh-English borders, with a freshly retired English general who had just been serving with NATO High Command.
The general bluntly stated that “British mothers have to realize that their sons may have to give their life’s blood on the streets of Vilnius” in defense of NATO’s positions there.
My own protestations, that Russia posed no threat whatsoever to the Baltic States and that, in any case, British mothers had never heard of Vilnius and would never agree to spend their children’s blood there, were met with a contemptuous wave of the hand. It signaled that no anti-war agitation from the likes of me would be allowed to be of any consequence whatsoever.
I believe that NATO and its partner organizations, far from being a defensive shield, are an aggressive, ever wider broadsword. Far from keeping the peace they represent a clear and present danger of war. Far from representing ‘the democracies’, NATO poses a real threat to democratic control of foreign and defense policy in member countries. It is for these reasons I will shortly relaunch my No2NATO campaign. Before it is too late to do so.